Are Behavioral Interviews a Mainstay for 2021?

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You know to prepare for job interviews. You know that in the pharmaceutical commercial analytics space your ability to interact successfully with a variety of departments and levels is critical for your success. Have you prepared adequately for an HR mainstay, behavioral interviews?

Behavioral interviews are based on the premise that how a job candidate behaved in the past is the best predictor of how they will behave in the future. It goes beyond what is detailed on your resume and tries to determine what you are like as a person. To prepare for behavioral interviews, research the position thoroughly and come to some conclusions about the intrinsic skill sets the company will be looking for in the person they hire. Not the nuts and bolts of the job requirements but the between-the–lines expertise sought. Common competencies include decision making, ability to persuade, problem-solving, how well do you prioritize and what have your past relationships been with both peers and supervisors.

Behavioral interviews have been around for thirty years. Long enough that candidates know to prepare sample stories and prepared examples, not all of which actually happened. Savvy interviewers will ask for a second example or for more specific details if they think your story lacks validity. Honesty is always the best policy in interviewing.

The STAR method is felt to be the best technique for preparing and responding to behavioral interview questions. STAR stands for situation, task, action and result, and gives you a process to use in developing your answer, either on the spot or in your preparation period before the interview. Coming up with an event, project or challenge faced is the Situation. Defining your responsibilities and assignments related to the situation is the Task. The steps or procedures you took to resolve the situation is the Action, and results are what come from the action taken. A tip when answering in the STAR formula is use the first person singular, “I did such and such.” Using “we did such and such” takes the focus away from you.

Some Dos and Don’ts for Behavioral Interviews:

  • Do demonstrate passion, enthusiasm and energy through the interview.
  • Do be confident. You are the kind of employee this company needs.
  • Do represent yourself honestly.
  • Do maintain direct eye contact.
  • Don’t get too comfortable. Remain professional and slightly reserved.
  • Don’t say anything negative. Be careful when speaking about past and present employers.


Some Standard Questions to Use When Preparing for Your Behavioral Interviews:

  • Tell me about a time when you had a conflict at work.
  • Can you describe a stressful situation and how you handled it?
  • Can you detail a mistake you made and how you reacted to it?
  • Tell me about a time you performed well under pressure.
  • Have you ever dealt with a sticky situation involving another department? (or your supervisor?
  • Give me an example of a goal you couldn’t meet and how you handled it.
  • Have you ever had a disagreement with an immediate supervisor?
  • Describe a time when you went above and beyond.


Interested in talking more about your pharmaceutical commercial analytics career or hiring in this area? Contact Smith Hanley Associates’ Pharmaceutical Commercial Analytics’ Executive Recruiter, Eda Zullo at ezullo@smithhanley.com.


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